"Aftermath" - September 17, 2021

A place to discuss the weekly Wall Street Journal Crossword Puzzle Contest, starting every Thursday around 4:00 p.m. Eastern time. Please do not post any answers or hints before the contest deadline which is midnight Sunday Eastern time.
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Joe Ross
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#401

Post by Joe Ross »

Jeanrosz wrote: Mon Sep 20, 2021 8:30 am I am so totally surprised that the moderators allowed the picture of the calculator with sin, cos, tan keys! And then another post mentioned the orange key for inverse. That was step one to the puzzle… how did that pass someone’s eyes?
Speaking on behalf of a moderator I know well, the puzzle was so, um, "successful" with solvers that it didn't seem to be a burning issue. I'll take the criticism, respectfully, and thank you for it, sincerely, but I hope I erred on the correct side in this case.

There is a reporting icon on all posts - the exclamation point at top right - which is useful in discreetly raising these issues directly to the moderators. [EDIT: A report from another muggle was received prior to the puzzle's deadline, but a decision was made & the report closed without my seeing it. The report was received by another moderator, a discussion was had, and a mutually acceptable solution was reached, privately. The system worked. The muggle with concerns was listened to and received a reply in a timely manner.]

I will firmly state that I prefer that the reporting function be used over airing issues publicly well after any chance for a resolution can be made while it still matters.
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Commodore
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#402

Post by Commodore »

Some big numbers in this week's calculations!
Screen Shot 2021-09-20 at 9.07.36 AM.png
And in topsy-turvy Muggle-World, that spells one answer:
Screen Shot 2021-09-20 at 9.07.23 AM.png
Sine anybody up for a Black & TAN?
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Annabelle
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#403

Post by Annabelle »

I was on the right track, but got caught in the doldrums and didn't make it to shore. Got the idea after seeing TAN, but couldn't find the clues in the two longest answers. It's been a looooong time since I took that trig class! yes, we were using slide rules in those days. (Loved the scenes in Apollo 13 when the geeks in the control room in Houston were trying to figure out how to change course with slide rules. And younger audience members going "what?")
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Joe Ross
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#404

Post by Joe Ross »

Commodore wrote: Mon Sep 20, 2021 9:12 am Some big numbers in this week's calculations!
Image
And in topsy-turvy Muggle-World, that spells one answer:
Image
Sine anybody up for a Black & TAN?
Have Noah send several up to the Crow's Nest, please!

- Ark Tan Gent
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SReh26
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#405

Post by SReh26 »

hoover wrote: Sun Sep 19, 2021 9:35 pm
mikeB wrote: Fri Sep 17, 2021 4:55 pm
SReh26 wrote: Thu Sep 16, 2021 11:22 pm I remember a discussion in the college cafeteria about the value of a “math background” (we meant 😅 up to calc in HS!) in other majors. Those of us with a math background said no question it was valuable to whatever we were then studying. Those who didn’t made their predictable protestations to the contrary.
I studied math at Berkeley. I considered mechanical engineering -- very interesting curriculum, but the math was way too hard, so I studied math instead.
I studied electrical engineering at Rice. I choose EE because of the applied math and equations. Actual math didn't seem to have any numbers.
Great school, lovely campus too! I visited a friend there in the mid 80s. She was studying mechanical engineering and went on to a fine career in Atlanta. Houston was lovely at that time and so friendly!
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#406

Post by mntlblok »

mikeB wrote: Sun Sep 19, 2021 4:23 pm
Joe Ross wrote: Sun Sep 19, 2021 12:53 pm
Bob cruise director wrote: Sun Sep 19, 2021 12:40 pm
But the real question is "did your Dad have a pocket protector"

He sounds like a great guy.
Of course, he had a pocket protector! He'd have the best mechanical pencils, but the worst ballpoint pens, favoring his fountain pen, when forced to write in ink.

He was a good man, like so many others. He'd be embarrassed to be complimented, but it's true.

He'd shop wherever his kids worked, including a pharmacy where my youngest sister worked, several years after two elder sisters did. That is, he was a long-time customer. She helped him with a particular issue and was asked by a co-worker afterward, "How do you know that priest? You seem to know him rather well." "Priest?!? He's my DAD!"
San Diego’s high school math classes in the early sixties had large slide rules mounted above the blackboard for demonstrating the tool’s use. But the slide rule didn’t exactly automate problem solving. More important than learning to manipulate the slide rule and interpret its scales was learning to estimate the order of magnitude of the original problem’s answer. This became second nature in using the “slip stick” to solve a problem. In the age of calculators and spreadsheet apps, I find this ability continues to pay dividends anytime I’m working with numbers. I’m not sure they teach that explicitly anymore, but to me it is a lasting gift of the slide rule days.
Mr. Newton taught us to ask if the answer was "within the realm of reasonableness".
Last edited by mntlblok on Mon Sep 20, 2021 9:57 am, edited 1 time in total.
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HunterX
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#407

Post by HunterX »

JennyByrd wrote: Sun Sep 19, 2021 8:13 am
BarbaraK wrote: Sun Sep 19, 2021 8:01 am
JAQT wrote: Sat Sep 18, 2021 10:03 pm I know that auee89 knows, and I'm pretty sure that Bob, as an RPI grad knows (my son loved RPI), but does anyone else know what "RPN" stands for?
Reverse Polish Notation. Be careful asking people about this; you may trigger an hour long explanation about why it’s the greatest thing since sliced bread. People who love it feel strongly about it and just don’t get why most of the world never got on board. 🙂
Confession: I am one of those people. RPN is indeed far superior to ‘standard’ calculators - I just bored my teenager at dinner the other night extolling its virtues.
Me too. I still use the HP 12C I got at work 30 or so years ago, even though the buttons are getting a bit unreliable. I even prefer it to the 19B I got as an upgrade, that's currently sitting in the office I can't get to. I found an app for one of my previous phones that was an exact visual/operational replica of the 12C, but I can't find the app anymore. And it just didn't have the satisfying feel of the real 12C's buttons.

But RPN calculators rule. ;)
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#408

Post by MikeM000 »

IMO this would be a great teaching meta for new solvers. It was not complicated, everything meshed perfectly well together, and it required some thinking but not strenuously so.

"6 letter answer" - 6 long entries
Puzzle title hinted at how to find the answer
Clue in one of the 3 key grid spots combined with the puzzle title to guide you to the answer
The guiding hints are straightforward enough that you could easily google for confirmation on what you're looking for or if you don't know math stuff.
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#409

Post by mntlblok »

JeanneC wrote: Sun Sep 19, 2021 8:32 pm Had a six inch slide rule in high school but switched to the circular one.
It had a pocket for the periodic table. Used it for the state high school exams in physics and math. (Yep, I passed.)
Looked like the one in Spock’s hand in the photo posted earlier. Good enough for a Vulcan, good enough for me.
Pretty sure my circular one was significantly larger than that.
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#410

Post by Bob cruise director »

Jeanrosz wrote: Mon Sep 20, 2021 8:30 am I am so totally surprised that the moderators allowed the picture of the calculator with sin, cos, tan keys! And then another post mentioned the orange key for inverse. That was step one to the puzzle… how did that pass someone’s eyes?
Jean
Here is my thoughts on posts in general that might be considered spoilers

1) About 50% of all who are going to get on shore are on by Friday noon, 80% by Saturday noon and the rest arrive over the next 36 hours. The numbers are even higher earlier for the easier metas like we have this week. And I recognize that some do not get to look at the meta until the weekend so that is also a factor.

2) how I look at pictures or comments for spoilers is influenced by a few things including when it is posted (Sunday I am much more lax figuring that anyone who was going to work on this meta has already done it) and second by how difficult it is and how explicit the hints in the grid/clues are. Also I look at the general flavor of the comments and how relevant they are to solving the meta.

3) how many people are asking for nudges and when they start asking. This week we had almost no nudge requests.

4) how many comments - this week we had 390 posts by the time the contest closed.

For this one, I was not critical as there did not seem to be very many people who were stumped. Also between the title, and 72A, there was a lot of indications that this was math related and even more specifically trig related.

The first reference was comment 129 on page 7 but there was only reference to a calculator but no picture. Then we got into a slide rule discussion with pictures. The calculator picture showed up on Friday at 4 pm in post 265. My feeling at the time was that there were so many buttons and letters on the calculator that it really did not help.

The second picture in post 603 was a simpler calculator with no trig functions shown although the original image of the calculator showed up a couple of more times on Saturday

So it is always a judgement call. If you or anyone see a posting that they think is a spoiler, please PM either myself or @joe ross.

We appreciate the feedback.

Bob
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#411

Post by mntlblok »

hoover wrote: Sun Sep 19, 2021 9:35 pm
mikeB wrote: Fri Sep 17, 2021 4:55 pm
SReh26 wrote: Thu Sep 16, 2021 11:22 pm I remember a discussion in the college cafeteria about the value of a “math background” (we meant 😅 up to calc in HS!) in other majors. Those of us with a math background said no question it was valuable to whatever we were then studying. Those who didn’t made their predictable protestations to the contrary.
I studied math at Berkeley. I considered mechanical engineering -- very interesting curriculum, but the math was way too hard, so I studied math instead.
I studied electrical engineering at Rice. I choose EE because of the applied math and equations. Actual math didn't seem to have any numbers.
While I hold EE's in highest esteem, whenever I encounter one, I ask if they know of Oliver Heaviside. You'll be the first if you do. :-)
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#412

Post by Limerick Savant »

A Triggy Solution

If you search for mathematical clues
As to angle and hypotenuse
There’s a cute ratio
That allows you to know
That the meta is always obtuse

I did not spot the hidden abbreviations like my more acute fellow Muggles until I got to the Trigger clue, but from that point it was as easy as 3.14159265359…
Dedicated to no nonsense nonsense
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#413

Post by rosiegirl »

FatJack wrote: Mon Sep 20, 2021 8:30 am Thought I was ashore Friday night. Turns out that land I spotted was a fog bank called "Angles"
Angles was my first thought, too, but it didn't feel quite right as I didn't see a fit to the puzzle title. So I waited until the next morning and looked at the puzzle with fresh eyes and a clearer brain and the "after"math headed me to the correct answer and shore.
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#414

Post by mntlblok »

Joe Ross wrote: Mon Sep 20, 2021 8:48 am
Jeanrosz wrote: Mon Sep 20, 2021 8:30 am
Speaking on behalf of a moderator I know well, the puzzle was so, um, "successful" with solvers that it didn't seem to be a burning issue. I'll take the criticism, respectfully, and thank you for it, sincerely, but I hope I erred on the correct side in this case.

Exactly. I took it as sort of an "inside joke" - that if one were struggling with the "math", then seeing what was on such a calculator surely wasn't going to help. :-)
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#415

Post by Dplass »

I was amazed that

1. All 6 functions were unique
2. He used all 6 functions!
3. None of the long themed answers were "forced".
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#416

Post by JAQT »

mntlblok wrote: Mon Sep 20, 2021 9:43 am
hoover wrote: Sun Sep 19, 2021 9:35 pm
mikeB wrote: Fri Sep 17, 2021 4:55 pm

I studied math at Berkeley. I considered mechanical engineering -- very interesting curriculum, but the math was way too hard, so I studied math instead.
I studied electrical engineering at Rice. I choose EE because of the applied math and equations. Actual math didn't seem to have any numbers.
While I hold EE's in highest esteem, whenever I encounter one, I ask if they know of Oliver Heaviside. You'll be the first if you do. :-)
Oliver Heaviside, inventor of the step function whose derivative is the Dirac delta function.

In fairness, although my graduate degree was EE, my undergrad was math. But why do you think that EEs won't know Oliver Heaviside? The responses to step and impulse functions are critical analytical tools.
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#417

Post by mikeB »

MikeM000 wrote: Mon Sep 20, 2021 9:36 am IMO this would be a great teaching meta for new solvers. It was not complicated, everything meshed perfectly well together, and it required some thinking but not strenuously so.

"6 letter answer" - 6 long entries
Puzzle title hinted at how to find the answer
Clue in one of the 3 key grid spots combined with the puzzle title to guide you to the answer
The guiding hints are straightforward enough that you could easily google for confirmation on what you're looking for or if you don't know math stuff.
That is a great summary of a well placed meta. It highlights the fact that the group of aspiring solvers comprises a continuum of experience and skill levels. Also, the cohort is a moving target, with new arrivals every day, individuals gaining skill with experience, and the population apparently increasing over time. Ideally, the contests would appeal to the entire (everchanging) cohort. This moving target is a very interesting challenge for the puzzle constructor/editor team, and the comments and statistics I’ve seen here seem to suggest they’re getting it right. Hats off to them.
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#418

Post by RichA2 »

Bob cruise director wrote: Mon Sep 20, 2021 9:42 am
Jeanrosz wrote: Mon Sep 20, 2021 8:30 am I am so totally surprised that the moderators allowed the picture of the calculator with sin, cos, tan keys! And then another post mentioned the orange key for inverse. That was step one to the puzzle… how did that pass someone’s eyes?
Jean
Here is my thoughts on posts in general that might be considered spoilers

1) About 50% of all who are going to get on shore are on by Friday noon, 80% by Saturday noon and the rest arrive over the next 36 hours. The numbers are even higher earlier for the easier metas like we have this week. And I recognize that some do not get to look at the meta until the weekend so that is also a factor.

2) how I look at pictures or comments for spoilers is influenced by a few things including when it is posted (Sunday I am much more lax figuring that anyone who was going to work on this meta has already done it) and second by how difficult it is and how explicit the hints in the grid/clues are. Also I look at the general flavor of the comments and how relevant they are to solving the meta.

3) how many people are asking for nudges and when they start asking. This week we had almost no nudge requests.

4) how many comments - this week we had 390 posts by the time the contest closed.

For this one, I was not critical as there did not seem to be very many people who were stumped. Also between the title, and 72A, there was a lot of indications that this was math related and even more specifically trig related.

The first reference was comment 129 on page 7 but there was only reference to a calculator but no picture. Then we got into a slide rule discussion with pictures. The calculator picture showed up on Friday at 4 pm in post 265. My feeling at the time was that there were so many buttons and letters on the calculator that it really did not help.

The second picture in post 603 was a simpler calculator with no trig functions shown although the original image of the calculator showed up a couple of more times on Saturday

So it is always a judgement call. If you or anyone see a posting that they think is a spoiler, please PM either myself or @joe ross.

We appreciate the feedback.

Bob
Bob, thanks to you and Joe for your great work, both in checking for spoilers and everything else you do related to this site. For what it’s worth, I think the judgment call here was on the money.

There was a more direct spoiler (unnoticed by me at the time) in Saturday morning’s post 307 and following posts, which explicitly contained “trig,” the answer to clue 72A, and so could have helped any hypothetical muggle still struggling with that corner of the grid. I’m sure the poster didn’t recognize it as a spoiler or thought it trivial since the grid answer, and that answer’s likely connection to the meta solution, were obvious.

The takeaway, I think, is that the best defense against spoilers is our caution in posting, particularly taking care to avoid explicit use of grid answers.
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#419

Post by michaelm »

I, for one, was not triggered by any of the possible spoilers this past weekend.
sined,
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#420

Post by Dplass »

michaelm wrote: Mon Sep 20, 2021 2:07 pm I, for one, was not triggered by any of the possible spoilers this past weekend.
sined,
michaelm
At least you didn't go off on any tangents.
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